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For Brunell, A Stat That Made a Difference

One of the telltales for the Redskins of 2005 concerned the fact that Clinton Portis and Santana Moss both entered their names into the team record book.

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Portis rushed for a franchise record 1,516 yards during the regular season, breaking Stephen Davis's mark of 1,432 in 2001. Moss finished with 1,483 receiving yards, edging out Bobby Mitchell's team standard of 1,436 yards, which the Hall of Famer established in 1963.

Another player whose performance last year forces you back into the franchise's annals is quarterback Mark Brunell.

In his 13th NFL season, Brunell was exceptional in one particular category, i.e., in his ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. He was 23-to-10 on that count.

It's a very important stat, given the way the game is played nowdays, with such an emphasis for defenses on pressuring quarterbacks and forcing turnovers.

If you look at the history of the Redskins all the way back to 1932, you'll find that only two quarterbacks had a better ratio of TDs to picks.

In 1983, Joe Theismann threw for 29 touchdowns and was picked off just 11 times. That '83 team put up 541 points and ranks as one of the best offenses in NFL history. Theismann led the Redskins all the way to Super Bowl XVIII, at which point Washington came up empty in a 38-9 setback to the Los Angeles Raiders.

In 1991, Mark Rypien tossed 28 TDs and was intercepted 11 times for a club that eventually trounced Buffalo 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI.

Here's the point: Theismann in 1983 and Rypien in 1991 are the only two quarterbacks in Redskins' history to have put together a better TDs-to-interceptions ratio than than of Brunell in 2005.

In the 1970 season, Sonny Jurgensen, like Brunell last season, went 23-10 in that department. And Sonny still holds the Redskins' record for most TD passes in a season (31). He did that in 1967, when he was picked off 16 times.

To be fair about it, prior to the modern era of NFL, Sammy Baugh had a season in 1945 in which he threw for 11 touchdowns and was picked off just four times. But that, basically, was before the time of reliance on the forward pass in NFL play.

Had it not been for his bad outing at Arizona, in which he was intercepted three times, Brunell would have been even better in his TDs-to-picks totals. Fortunately, the Redskins won that contest against the Cardinals by a score of 17-13.

As far as 2005, Brunell helped guide Washington to a 10-6 record and a win in the playoffs, the team's first since 1999. The postseason run came to an end with a 20-10 defeat to the Seahawks in the Divisional Playoffs round.

"It was a good learning lesson for us, to be in the playoffs and on the road like that in those environments," the veteran QB said.

Brunell played in all 16 regular-season games last year for the first time since 2000. For the season, Brunell completed 262-of-454 passes for 3,050 yards and a QB rating of 85.9. His career QB rating is 84.1.

Said Brunell: "Last year was a pretty special season with a great group of guys. I know I feel really proud of this football team and I'm looking forward to getting this going again."

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